In response to the growing automotive theft epidemic in the Chicagoland area, State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) has sponsored a public safety measure to help law enforcement to detain suspects of carjacking, which received unanimous support on the Senate floor on May 2.
“Our law enforcement have been calling for changes to the procedures in investigating car theft,” said Curran. “Too many carjackers get away unscathed and unaccountable—especially if they possess the keys to the vehicle—due to the overly complicated and extreme criteria for a suspect to be detained and questioned. This new measure provides courts with better direction in determining whether to detain someone for a possession of a stolen motor vehicle offense.”
Under Senate Bill 2339, law enforcement will be able to detain a possible suspect of carjacking if the individual has unexplained exclusive possession over the vehicle, or if surrounding facts and circumstances would lead a reasonable person to believe that the vehicle or auto parts were stolen or converted.
Current law pertaining to stolen vehicles has not proven to be effective in some areas for combating car theft, as it requires an investigating officer to establish that the person driving a stolen vehicle has “knowledge that the vehicle is stolen or converted" in order for the officer to pursue charges. This knowledge is difficult to prove when the suspect has the keys to the vehicle; for example, if the car was stolen following the hijacking. As a result, car thieves routinely avoid accountability in court; and the victim of the theft does not receive meaningful restitution.
Senate Bill 2339 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.